Scholastic’s Functions of Government

Scholastic is one of the largest publisher of children’s education material. For some reason, I don’t believe this is the message being pushed in classrooms.

Maintenance of Authority. One of the principal functions of government is to remain in power. Governments do not relinquish their authority unless compelled to do so. Many of the actions of politicians and civil servants can be explained by the need to maintain and enhance their power.

Every government strives to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of the people. It may identify itself with ancient traditions, with hope for the future, or with fear of a common enemy. Some governments employ repression, never relaxing their vigils against real or imagined opponents. Even democracies, when threatened, are likely to engage in a search for subversives and “enemies of the people.”

When a regime draws its main support from a privileged class or group that decreases in numbers and strength, when a government becomes ineffective in handling domestic affairs or countering external threats, or when a society’s consensus on the principles and goals of government evaporates, a government tends to lose authority. The French monarchy in the 18th century and the Russian monarchy in the 20th century were based on aristocracies that had lost much of their legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Eventually these regimes were unable to enforce their laws, and revolutions swept them from power.

(via George Donnelly)